This piece by former Mercy Ministries staff member Sian was originally published on her personal blog, Wide Awake…, and can be viewed here.
This is a rewrite of a previous post that I have now deleted. I will say this was not because it was untrue, every word was true, but it was my experience and written from a place of hurt and anger. Anyway…this is NOT about me. I survived and I’m okay. I’m doing this to protect the vulnerable that may end up damaged by Mercy Ministries.
I feel I need to explain a bit of why I went from promoting Mercy Ministries everywhere I went to now speaking out against them.
I started like many others. I heard about a faith-based organisation that claimed to have an amazing success rate where everyone else seemed to be failing. I remember being so excited to meet Nancy Alcorn, she was my hero.
I started working for Mercy Ministries several years ago and initially it was mostly positive. I felt privileged to work for such a high profile organisation which was supported by many Christian ‘celebrities’.
The longer I was there, the more I felt uncomfortable about. I tried to challenge and was told to keep quiet. This is one of my biggest concerns about Mercy Ministries, there is no accountability and no one to challenge them. They did not seem open to evaluation, almost like they were already perfect. Staff members that tried to question methods were pretty much bullied out and I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about staff experience but this is something that I feel is an important indicator of potential problems.
There were other things:
- Girls’ progress seemed to be judged on where they were deemed to be spiritually. Ie, if they prayed in tongues, raised their hands in worship etc, rather than on how they were doing with the issue that brought them to Mercy Ministries in the first place.
- The majority of staff were not qualified to work in mental health, and in addition, there was no training for staff new to the field.
- Medication was administered by untrained staff who would refused medicine illegally and tell the girls to pray instead. Those staff that were experienced were overlooked for those deemed more spiritual.
- There were no policies in place for safeguarding the girls or dealing with disclosure of abuse . This is especially concerning given the that many of the girls had alleged abusers who were living with children in the family home.
- Girls would leave the programme and have little support. The transitional care programme was not in existence at the time and did not seem to be deemed important meaning girls would be left to struggle alone. Girls would be told that they struggled because they were not using their ‘tools’ and the blame was placed on them. These girls were still included in the success rate statistics and their testimonies would still be told as evidence of the great work done by Mercy Ministries.
I will say that in the home I worked in I saw no evidence of the abuse that has been reported in the other homes but there was definitely a similar attitude that appears to be inherited from the top.
I hope this explains why I can no longer support Mercy Ministries.